Earlier this week, Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt RED told its millions of fans if they were unsatisfied with the broken game that released earlier this month, they should request a refund. Since then, chaos has ensued, because the studio does not control the refund process, and every retailer—digital or physical—will fight a refund, because it's lost profits.
Now, VICE Games has learned, retailer GameStop is directing unhappy customers who are trying to return their copies of Cyberpunk 2077 directly to CD Projekt RED.
Three GameStop employees passed an internal memo to VICE Games about the gaming retailer's stance on Cyberpunk 2077. Not surprisingly, GameStop will not accept returns for open copies of the game. That's standard retailer policy and nothing exceptional about GameStop. You would encounter the same reaction from Target, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart. However, the memo does tell GameStop employees to direct customers who remain unhappy with Cyberpunk 2077 to contact CD Projekt Red directly.
Here's GameStop's memo in full, which starts by stating "the following message is sent on behalf of our partners at CD Projekt Red."
"CDP will issue a patch on 12/21 that should be a major fix to address customers' concerns about Cyberpunk 2077. If customers are still unhappy and want to return their product, they should be directed to send an email to: email@example.com for reimbursement directions and refunds issued directly from CDP. The complete CDP message to Cyberpunk customers can be found here: https://en.cdprojektred.com/news/important-update/"
GameStop did not immediately respond to a request for comment by VICE Games. CD Projekt RED pointed me towards the original statement and said there were “no further comments to provide at this time.”
CD Projekt RED has already said another patch was coming next week, and this memo would seem to suggest players can expect it on or around December 21. More striking is how the company suggests CD Projekt RED will "directly" handle "reimbursement" and "refunds." It's unclear how this would work and CD Projekt RED hasn't announced details.
Would players get to keep their copy of the game? Do they get credit on GOG, the online storefront that's owned by CD Projekt RED's parent company? Did GameStop unilaterally decide to direct unhappy customers to CD Projekt Red without consulting the developer? There's a lot of questions.
The message mentioned in the memo is the same announcement CD Projekt Red made this past Monday.
As VICE Games reported on Tuesday, Sony has been particularly strict about its refund process, largely denying anyone who requests one. On PlayStation, refunds are only issued if the game has not been played—period. The moment you launch a game, you sacrifice a refund, absent the game being "faulty." Because CD Projekt RED has not taken Cyberpunk 2077 down from the PlayStation Store and has promised patches, Sony has taken the understandable stance the game is not "faulty" and, with some exceptions, denied refunds.
As part of its public announcement, the developer set up an email address for frustrated customers, promising there would be additional help if you had trouble securing a refund, which was bound to be a lot of people. There were no details on how this "help" would work.
In the past 24 hours, however, several people received a response from CD Projekt RED:
This is confirmation that we have received your assistance request for refunding a console copy of Cyberpunk 2077. As this email was sent automatically, we kindly ask you not to reply. We'll get back to you as soon as possible, no later than the end of 2020, with information regarding next steps.
If you own a digital copy of the game on Xbox, visit this Xbox support article for details on how to refund. If you own a digital copy on PlayStation, please wait for us to get back to you. For help with other Cyberpunk 2077-related matters, please visit our Technical Support website."
There are several curious parts of this letter. One, it confirms the studio is being overwhelmed with requests for help in the refunding process. That's no great shock. Cyberpunk 2077 sold millions of copies as soon as it was available, and it would only take a small percentage of those people attempting refunds simultaneously to break the system.
Two, it specifically tells PlayStation owners to "wait" for more information. When VICE Games contacted both Sony and Microsoft for details about CD Projekt RED's announcement about refunds this week, only Microsoft responded with details about its policies. It did not indicate it was treating Cyberpunk 2077 differently than other games, but the company was at least acknowledging something was happening. Sony did not respond.
Instead, Sony continues to speak through its overloaded customer support agents, who are arbitrarily deciding who does and doesn't get a refund. It's clear there is a policy in place, and that policy is, with rare exceptions, to deny the refund.
“Microsoft and Sony have refund policies for every product that is released digitally on their storefronts," said CD Projekt Red SVP of business development Michał Nowakowsk on a recent investor call. "Despite several articles I've seen that things are being set up just for us, it's actually not true—these policies are in place and have always been in place; they're not offered specifically for us. Anyone who has purchased any title on the PlayStation network or the Microsoft storefront can ask for a refund, and if it's made within certain boundaries, usually related to time, usage and so on, can ask for that refund.
It's possible to say one thing for sure, however: this all continues to be a mess.
Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).